Saturday, January 21, 2012

#BIAHRoadTrip The Diary Part XII: I get lost in an arena, hot breakfast buffets and why we missed shootaround

5:15 pm Day 16
Somewhere on the highway
Total Miles: 2554

Road Trip Part-I
Road Trip Part-II
Road Trip Part-III
Road Trip Part-IV
Road Trip Part-V
Road Trip Part-VI
Road Trip Part-VII
Road Trip Part-VIII
Road Trip Part-IX
Road Trip Part-X
Road Trip Part-XI

This post is brought to you by the University Plaza Hotel in Springfield, MO.

On Wednesday morning, we were scheduled to go to the Creighton shootaround.

It was at 11 am. We were in Columbia, MO, which is a good three hours from Springfield. And if you read The Diary Part XI, than you can probably figure out why we were in no shape to be getting up at 7:30 am. This, unfortunately, means I didn't get the chance to redeem myself for Troy's terrific editing job my poor shooting performance the last time you saw us play.

You see, Creighton's Grant Gibbs -- who I have to be a fan because he was rockin' the same 49ers hat that I got for Christmas -- thinks that he can beat me in a three-point shooting contest. I'm pretty sure I'm the best three-point shooter that he's ever seen. But since I succumbed to Troy's persuasive peer pressuring powers and took that last shot of Jameson even though I knew it was a terrible idea, I guess we'll never know who's right.

Consider yourself lucky, Grant. Next time I'll tell Troy to take that second shot himself.

(Troy's Interjection)

False. Totally false. First, it wasn't Jameson, it was Knobbs Creek. And second, Rob was the one to bring whiskey into play in the first place. I was fine drinking ale the entire night.
Clearly Rob likes to start things that he can't finish.

(Ahh, who am I kidding? Grant Gibbs would kick my ass in a three-point shooting contest. [And I would probably never pass up a free shot, either.])


You want to know what my favorite part about covering mid-major basketball games is?

The parking.


For the first time in the history of the #BIAHRoadTrip, we didn't get lost trying to find a place to park. Missouri State literally used a street right next to JQH Arena as media parking. All we had to do was get out of our car and we were there. It was glorious.

You want to know what was even more glorious? The media entrance was literally right next to where we parked. And the media room in JQH Arena was literally right next to the media entrance. And the meal they served the media was wings.


But that didn't mean we didn't get lost.


Before I get into the difficulties we had in the bowels of JQH Arena, let's talk about the game. It was awesome. Everything about it.

The game itself was the typical barnburner that you have to come to expect out of a Valley league game. After a flurry of offense in the first couple of minutes, both teams really settled in defensively, trading haymakers -- and the lead -- for the entirety of the second half. The excitement was heightened in the final seconds as Missouri State had two chances at the end of the game to take the lead, but Kyle Weems and Anthony Downing both missed jumpers and Creighton escaped.

Literally. Escaped.

But it was more than the action on the court. The crowd was into it the entire game. The student section was packed before we even showed up, and we got there an hour before tip-off. Three-year old JQH Arena -- which is as nice as any venue that I've been in -- had the lower sections packed to gills and filled about 80% of the upper deck. My guess would be that there were at least 15 times where everyone in the arena stood and cheered to urge on their team, even the old folks sitting in the section in front of it. It was awesome.

My favorite part about the student section was the guy with a big, plastic bucket that he named "Boom-Boom-Clap". Right before the start of both halves, he was allowed to get on the back of the basket support and help stir the students into a frenzy.

Missouri State also had a bunch of guys dressed up as what I can only assume were highway construction workers. MSU fans, feel free to chime in and let me know what, exactly, that's all about. Because I loved it.

One day, when someone decides to pay me a lot of money for it, I'm going to turn the #BIAHRoadTrip into a Missouri Valley tour and write a book about the fans, the history of the programs and the conferences and about everything else that makes the Valley what it is.

If you are a college hoops fan, get yourself to a game in the Valley. I promise its worth it.


Three guesses what Troy is taking pictures of?


Gameday schedule:


Before I get into what happened after the game, let me explain to you what the hallways underneath JQH look like: gray walls that are all identical.


Its an elaborate series of corridors that aren't actually all that elaborate but get incredibly confusing because there are multiple entrances to the media room and interview room, which both happen to sit in the middle of these corridors.

So we manage to make it to the press conferences just fine, and after Creighton spent ten minutes addressing the crowd of reporters, I said hello to Grant and told him I'd catch up with him after he finished showering. Since I was also working on a story on Kyle Weems, I set out to try and find the Missouri state locker room to catch him because he didn't come out to the press conference.

This is where I got into trouble.

I ended up wandering around in circles for about 10 minutes, twice getting myself even more confused when I asked for directions (which would have ended up being right if I had just listened to them ... ugh), before I finally ran into Kyle as he was talking with a couple fans and/or friends. I went up and introduced myself to him and asked him for an interview, and he granted it.

After chatting with Kyle (and being completely blown away by him, he's really just a terrific individual), I set out on a quest to try and find the visitor's locker room before the Bluejays hopped on their bus and get the hell out of Springfield.

And once again, I wandered around under the arena without a clue as to where I was going. Eventually, I ran back into Kyle and pleaded with him to point me in the right direction, which ended up being all of "See that door that you walked by 20 times? Walk through it." So I did.

Yes, I'm dumb. I don't need to be reminded.

Anyway, I got a chance to chat with a couple of the Creighton players -- and, quite a bit less importantly, got the interviews I needed. But it was touch-and-go for a while there.

Am I the only one that needs a GPS in an arena?


We woke up the next morning that the University Plaza Hotel which, in addition to being a 10 minute walk from the arena (perfect for all you visiting fans, although Jeff, my new friend at the front desk, might not take to kindly to the Wichita State faithful showing up en masse), has a hot breakfast buffet. Seriously. On Thursday morning, I had eggs, biscuits and gravy, french toast and sausages. It doesn't get better than that.

I wish I had awesome stories about what we did on Thursday during the day, but I don't.

We wrote. And wrote. And caught up on some sleep. And wrote some more.

Eventually, we finished up our work and headed out to a restaurant called Ebbett's Field, which was pretty damn cool. In addition to having some awesome craft beers on draft (I went with Boulevard's IPA, Troy went with their wheat beer) they were also voted as having the best burgers in Missouri.

We both got burgers.

The voters weren't lying to you.

1 comment:

Brittany Z said...

The guys dressed up are construction management majors:)